Dressing for Weight Fluctuations

Dressing for Weight FluctuationsDressing for weight gain and loss is hard. Maybe you’re in treatment for an eating disorder. Maybe you’ve gained weight after taking medication. Maybe your appetite has decreased and you’ve lost weight. There are a million reasons why sudden weight change might occur.

Unfortunately, I’ve been there. When I first was put on medication, I gained 60 lbs in about a year. I stayed stable until I was put on Clozaril for a few months and gained 10lbs. I ended up stopping the Clozaril and lost that 10 lbs. When I started severely limiting my caloric intake, I lost 20 lbs, only to gain 30 for an unknown medical reason. A few weeks ago, I was put on a new medication and have gained a few lbs since then.

Sometimes, it’s not a slow and small weight gain, and a lot is affected from such a drastic change. Your self esteem, your self worth, and your wardrobe become foreign, slow to adapt to a new situation.

Or, let’s say you feel confident about yourself and your weight. No matter what, your closet is due for an overhaul. Easiest way to handle it? Sweatpants and huge t-shirts. While those might work at home, they become less appropriate and more depressing at work or running errands.


Dresses can be your best friend. Sundresses, wrap dresses, and cowl dresses work really well. The key is embracing fabrics like jersey, spandex blends, etc. You can pair them with stretchy leggings, and it’s appropriate for any season or situation. In a relaxed setting, oversized tunics and leggings work well. Tunics look big, but they are made to look big as opposed to buying a larger size of an item that is meant to be fitted. I can’t tell you the last time I actually wore real pants.

As depressing as this thought may be, maternity clothes also work well. Many of them don’t look like maternity clothes at all, yet they’ll still accommodate some weight gain. In addition, since they’re also designed to be worn postpartum, they also look good with weight loss. Yes, this sounds embarrassing as all hell, but you know what? The only one who has to know is you. I have a few camisoles from Target that I wear when I’m in a rough patch and have to double up on some Seroquel, and not one person has noticed that it’s maternity clothing. I do draw the line at nursing bras, though.

The idea of camisoles leads me to my next tip: layering! Layering allows you to adjust clothing to cover up exposed skin that happens when your weight changes. For example, it took me an embarrassingly long time (and one mortifying suggestion from a teacher) to figure out that there was a gap between my jeans and my t-shirt, especially when I sat down. Plumbers, you can sympathize with me here. Tanks and camisoles usually come longer and stretch, moving and growing with you. Similarly, they also allow you to wear your larger shirts for longer by hugging your midsection. Finally, they are usually cheaper than other clothing, so you can stock up.

The strangest suggestion I have? Wear scrubs. I know it sounds nuts, but think about it: they are stretchy, comfortable, come in a million sizes, cheap, and no one is going to judge you. There’s no rule that says you can’t wear scrubs unless you’re a medical professional, and unless you happen to be in a medical setting, no one’s going to rely on you for medical advice. These obviously aren’t for formal occasions, but they’re perfect to wear while running errands.


I don’t have much experience in this area, so I’ll refer you to a great Art of Manliness article.


In terms of clothing, stick with basic, foundational items in neutral colors. They don’t have to be expensive, and you can get a bunch of uses out of them. In addition, shopping doesn’t have to be a nightmare scenario. You can buy online and try them on at home, or you can go to a store with which you’re comfortable.

One coping mechanism I use is to concentrate on finding nice accessories, things that can stay with me regardless of my weight. I like to pick out nice shoes, scarves, watches, etc rather than become upset about my actual clothing. A cute purse is a cute purse regardless of how much I weigh at the time. And, when I slip my feet into my nice shoes, I remember that I can enjoy how I look despite how I might feel.


Under-Eye Baggage

I organize all my bags’ contents in mix-and-match pouches. For example, all of my beauty products (such as hand sanitizer, concealer, moisturizer) go in one pouch. It helps me keep everything clean and then if I want anything I can just reach for that pouch rather than fishing through my entire bag. I use a soft leather pencil case by Co Lab, but anything will do. You can grab a bunch of pencil cases after the back-to-school sales.


Get the easiest possible haircut to deal with. Try to aim for the shortest length you’re comfortable with. Firstly, hair gets progressively easier to deal with the shorter it gets, and secondly, you can go for longer periods of time without getting it cut. Also, if it’s a simple hair cut, it doesn’t take long to get ready in the morning, and you can cheap out when it comes to hair dressers. If it’s really short, you can always buy a set of clippers and have a friend cut it. It’s almost impossible to mess that up.

Make Me Up

There’s no rule that you have to wear make-up, but if you would like to, it’s actually easier than you might think. You only need:

  • Oil-Free Moisturizer (SPF 15-30)
  • Concealer (I like this one)
  • Foundation Powder (usually comes with a brush)
  • Dark Eyeliner (Mascara optional)

The e.l.f. brand has a cheap, good quality make-up. Start with a light coat of moisturizer. Next, lightly rub concealer on the darkest parts of your skin, such as acne scars or dark circles under your eyes. Then, using the powder brush, lightly coat your skin. Apply eyeliner half-way along the bottom of your eyelid and along the top of your eyelid. If you have especially thin or light eyelashes, finish the look with a dark mascara.  This method is simple, cheap, and takes almost no talent.

If you’re interested in branching out in cosmetics and don’t know where to start, try finding your color profile. Check out the infographic below on how to do this!